I’m developing something called the “Fathering Framework” because what I’ve learned over the past few years is that mainstream parenting and parenting fringes have smashed mothering and fathering together. The FF will be a set of learnable skills for being a great father. I’m getting some coaching/advice from some pretty amazing people and all those interviews will be posted and shared as I go.
I believe that a modern parent can exhibit both mothering and fathering traits and behaviors and can learn new skills that are either of a more feminine nature (e.g. Nursing a baby) or a more masculine nature (e.g. Coaching a teenage boy at football) or a balanced nature (e.g. Loving your child no matter what they say or do).
As a single dad with 50% custody I purposely switch between feminine and masculine parenting behaviors. I’ve notice that for me it is easy to be masculine because that is my true nature as a man, but with practice I’ve gotten good at the feminine/mothering side of being a parent. For example, my 7 year old son had a bad fall off his bike. I stuffed my inner masculine “coach” in favor of my more feminine nurturing side as I approached.
As any great mother knows, sitting still and being held are the best medicine for a crying child. I first held him without asking questions or talking much at all and let him be still and shake off what happened so that he could process the traumatic event first.
Then, like any good coach would do, I encouraged him to walk it off and get back on his bike if he wanted to.
[As an aside, my Navy SEAL training always kicks in when injury is possible and I’m quietly assessing injuries the whole time without bringing attention to any injuries I find. Unless it was a life threatening injury I will always try to process the traumatic event first. (see Peter Levine’s work here) ]
In other words, I was both nurturing mom in that situation and coaching father but NOT at the same time. Both were behaviors that I have learned. The masculine “coach” was more in my masculine “nature” as a man and would normally be my default response. The more feminine “nurturer” was a behavior that I learned as a parent more recently over time, study, and observation.
The trick was knowing what to do in what order.
And if you don’t understand what I mean by masculine and feminine essence/nature then check out this article first. http://peaceinyourhome.com/?p=6707